Avoid this book

At the conference “Senior Market Mobile”, a theme developed. It was “Old, not stupid”. It’s a shame the authors of this book didn’t have any sense of the theme. It’s one of the most condescending things I’ve ever read.

This is a manual for the iPhone. It plods through all the features in the dullest possible way with little regard for how someone who has just bought a new iPhone might want to get on and play with their new toy. It’s chapter four before you get to make a call and chapter seven before you learn about the accessibility options. On the way you’ve learnt about iCloud and updating the operating system.

If the book were sensible it would start with the basics of how to switch the phone on, configure the accessibility options and then make a call. It would provide the gratification of getting the phone to work to inspire you to try new and different things.

There is a list of features (A6 processor, three microphones, Lightning connector) with no attempt at explaining what they might do for the customer. It tells you to decide “how much memory is enough” without any examples of what it might mean in terms of songs or videos.

There is no attempt a walkthroughs for things a reader might want to do. A great example would be taking a photograph, typically of a pet or grandchildren, and then setting it as wallpaper. There is no discussion of using hearing aids and inductive loopsets.

I fear that the author is too close to Apple, many of the accessibility options for the iPhone scream “afterthought”, yet there is no mention of this, even the widely derided maps application is gently praised.

This is a patronising manual for the iPhone. The author has taken the Apple documentation, re-written it and sold it to the publishers. It’s a school of journalism I have to plead a little guilty to myself. In the early 1980s when there was a plethora of different computers I worked on computer magazines. I, with some friends did a similar book on the Sinclair QL computer, but that was thirty years ago and I thought things had progressed since then.

The author runs http://www.techsmartsenior.com/index.html, a site on technology for seniors with small text on a shaded background.

I’ve also worked on computer manuals. The problem with writing a manual is that it has to address everyone from the most technical user to the ones who don’t understand the most basic concepts like a cursor. This book is a bit different, it has a well defined target market, it’s just as shame the author sees them as stupid rather than just old.